Farmers’ protest: Jio wants action against rivals for spreading rumours

Jio rivals rumours farmer protests
Indian village farmers rally on road to protest ruling government. Photo by Stockseller |

A fresh war of words has broken out in India’s telecom industry with Reliance Jio alleging that its bitter rivals Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are spreading “frivolous rumours” against it that the Mukesh Ambani-led telco will gain from the new agriculture laws.

India had recently enacted new agriculture laws, which has resulted in large-scale protests by farmers, mostly from northern states like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. These protests have already grabbed global attention with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau extending his support to the farmers.

The protesting farmers have also called for a national boycott of Reliance products, including Jio’s mobile connection and handsets.

In a letter to the market regulator, India’s leading telco said that its rivals are making claims that migrating Jio mobile numbers to their networks would be an act of support to farmers’ protests. 

Jio has sought strict action against rival telcos.

“We submit that Airtel and Vi remain unabated in pursuit, this vicious and divisive campaign through its employees, agents and retailers. They are inciting the public by making preposterous claims that migrating Jio mobile numbers to their network would be an act to support farmers’ protests,” Reliance Jio in its letter to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) secretary SK Gupta.

Due to the campaign which is not limited to northern states, Jio said that it has been receiving a large number of port-out requests where customers are citing campaign messages of Airtel and Vodafone Idea for porting out their mobile numbers.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea refuted Jio’s allegations and termed it a “baseless charge”.

Airtel said that Jio’s complaint deserves to be dismissed and thrown out with the contempt that it deserves in a letter to the telecom regulator. “ is in poor taste and is scurrilous, to say the least”.

Vodafone Idea spokesperson said it believes in doing business with ethics.

“These are baseless allegations against us to malign our reputation. We strongly refute such irresponsible comments on us,” the company spokesperson told Indian media.

“We believe in doing business with ethics. These are baseless allegations against us to malign our reputation. We strongly refute such irresponsible comments on us,” Vodafone Idea said in a statement to Indian media.

Airtel said that “despite being provoked by some competitors who we know will go to any length to make baseless allegations, adopt bullying tactics and use intimidatory behaviour, we have always conducted our business with character and transparency something that we are deeply proud of and known for”.

The Sunil Mittal-led telco said that it had operated in the telecom industry for 25 years, during which it had competed hard in the market place and striven to serve customers with excellence. “At the same time, we take great pride in treating our competitors and partners with respect.”

Notably, Airtel has been adding more subscribers in the last few months.

In September alone, Airtel added 3.77 million mobile users, outpacing Reliance Jio’s 1.46 million additions.

Reliance Jio has 406 million customers, while Airtel and Vodafone Idea have 294 million and 272 million subscribers, respectively.

Related article: Bharti Airtel prepares for a rural network push in India

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